Avalanche defensemen Erik Johnson and Ryan Wilson skated with the team Monday and, although they will not be in the lineup Tuesday against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, coach Joe Sacco said he's not ruling them out for Wednesday's game at Chicago.
Thus Sacco and his staff soon could be making a decision about Tyson Barrie's future with the organization. Without Johnson and Wilson, the 21-year-old Barrie has been playing the role of a top-four defenseman, logging more than 21 minutes per game in his past five and more than 18 minutes since Johnson (concussion) joined Wilson (high-ankle sprain) on the injured list.
Johnson has missed nine games and Wilson 12. The latter's injury led to Stefan Elliott's call-up from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League, and Elliott — currently the team's seventh defenseman — could be sent down to Avs' top minor-league affiliate as soon as Wednesday. But the play of Barrie might force Sacco to carry eight defensemen, leaving the club with only one extra forward.
"We'll just see how it goes, but I don't want to make any presumptions until those other two guys are back," Sacco said Monday.
Barrie, who began the season with Lake Erie, became the Avs' first defenseman to score a goal and has five assists in 13 games. He appears on the brink of solidifying himself as an every-night NHL player, but his age and contract might tempt the Avs to send him back to the AHL if they don't keep eight defensemen.
Among the Avs' nine defensemen who have played this season, Barrie and Elliott are the only two eligible to be sent down to the minor leagues without having to clear waivers.
The Avs might be looking to trade a veteran defenseman to be able to keep Barrie and carry seven defensemen. But Sacco said he won't keep eight, including Barrie, and make Barrie a healthy scratch.

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